Brew: D’Antoni hiring disappoints fans, brings excitement to Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers continued to upset most of their fans late Sunday night when plans to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach became official. D’Antoni agreed to a three-year deal with the team worth $12 million.

Many NBA experts and Lakers fans hoped and believed that the Lakers were going to bring back 11-time NBA title winner and Basketball Hall of Famer Phil Jackson, but team officials decided that D’Antoni was the best fit. Jackson was told by the Lakers that he had until Monday to accept the job, but received a phone call from Lakers ownership late Sunday night telling him of D’Antoni’s hiring, and was “stunned” by the news.

Lakers coach Mike Brown was fired last Friday after starting the season at 1-4, and during the Lakers game that night, fans chanted, “We want Phil!” continuously throughout the game.

D’Antoni’s hiring has upset many Lakers fans who argue that they’d much rather have a coach who is a proven winner in LA with the titles to back it up rather than settling for D’Antoni, who has never won an NBA title.

According to ESPN’s Chris Brossard, Lakers officials aren’t claiming that D’Antoni’s a better coach than Phil Jackson but that he was better-equipped for the team roster than Jackson was. The Lakers ownership believed that D’antoni’s style of offense was also a better fit than Jackson’s signature triangle offense.

There were rumors that Jackson wanted a lot of money, too many days off and too much control of the team. These rumors were likely another major factor that came into play when Lakers owner Jerry Buss made his decision to go with D’Antoni.

As Laker Kobe Bryant said of the hiring: “I love PJ, but I’m very excited about D’Antoni.”

D’Antoni is known for his up-tempo offense that he emphasized when he coached the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. These teams both excelled in almost every offensive category expect for defense. D’Antoni was criticized when he coached the Suns and Knicks for not stressing defense enough. Most of the teams he’s coached in the past were always second or third-to-last in most defensive statistics in the NBA.
D’Antoni’s resume as an NBA coach:

  • 10 seasons of coaching; Denver Nuggets (1998-1999), Phoenix Suns (2003-2005), New York Knicks (2008-2012)
  • 5 postseason appearances (reaching the conference finals twice with the Phoenix Suns; 2005/2006)
  • 2004-2005 NBA Coach of the Year

One Laker quite familiar with D’Antoni and his style is veteran guard Steve Nash. Nash played under D’Antoni for four years and won back-to-back MVP awards in the 2004 and 2005 seasons under the Suns and D’Antoni. D’Antoni will try to help the 38-year-old point guard find his stride with his new team. Nash has been hurt for a majority of the season and is struggling to find consistency on the offensive end now that he’s recovered.

So far the Lakers have acted more like the New York Jets, getting plenty of media attention and drama but no success or play to back it up. The Lakers will get one thing for sure with the hire of D’Antoni, and that’s plenty of fireworks. The Lakers will be a much more exciting team to watch now that D’Antoni has the reins. Look for more ally-oops, three-point shooting and scoring, scoring, scoring.

D’Antoni is expected to arrive in Los Angeles either today or Thursday and hopes he can help turn this veteran team around so it can be a legit threat when the postseason arrives.

  • Updated Feb. 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm
  • Edited by Joanna Hlavacek